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SHIPROCK — Providing information about services and programs to help expectant mothers and new parents with prenatal and medical care for their babies was the focus of a health fair at the Shiprock Chapter house on Wednesday.

Freda Begay works as a home visitor with First Born, a nonprofit program that focuses on first-time parents and increasing the health and wellness of women who are pregnant for the first time.

She was distributing information and answering questions about the program, which has been offered for more than two years in San Juan County.

"This is an opportunity for a lot of these individuals to ask questions," Begay said, adding there are 65 participants enrolled with First Born.

Wednesday's event also provided the opportunity for the program representatives to collaborate and deliver services to the community, she said.

"It gives us a chance to network with one another. In small communities, you definitely have to have that community-based network system," Begay said.

At one of the UnitedHealthcare booths, Tena Ross was talking about the program, Baby Blocks.

Baby Blocks is an online wellness-incentive program which focuses on prenatal health care and post-pregnancy health care during the first two years of a baby's life.

Ross, who is the maternal child health program coordinator, said the program helps expectant mothers manage their doctor visits and prepare for the arrival of their baby.

She said another focus of the program is to help mothers establish regular checkups for their babies during the first two years of life.

"Our big drive is to get them to the doctor because we know that pregnant women in the state of New Mexico don't go to the doctor. We are 50th in the United States for prenatal care," Ross said.

In addition to that, Native Americans have a lower rate for doctor's visits, she said.

Buffie Saavedra, the growth and development director at UnitedHealthcare of New Mexico, said although the event was focusing on expectant mothers and new parents, it was open to the community, and some residents stopped by to collect information for relatives or to ask questions about health insurance.

"We felt it was a good opportunity to provide education, information and resources — not only our information and resources — but that of the community for families in Shiprock and the surrounding area," Saavedra said.

UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of New Mexico, the Shiprock Navajo Agency and Southwest Youth hosted the community health fair.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and nsmith@daily-times.com. Follow her @nsmithdt on Twitter.

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